The Walt Disney Co. and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (21st Century Fox) have entered into a definitive agreement for Disney to acquire 21st Century Fox, including the Twentieth Century Fox Film and Television studios, along with cable and international TV businesses, for approximately $52.4 billion in stock (subject to adjustment).
Immediately prior to the acquisition, 21st Century Fox will separate the Fox Broadcasting network and stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2, and Big Ten Network into a newly-listed company that will be spun off to its shareholders.
Under the terms of the agreement, shareholders of 21st Century Fox will receive 0.2745 Disney shares for each 21st Century Fox share they hold (subject to adjustment for certain tax liabilities as described below). The exchange ratio was set based on a 30-day volume weighted average price of Disney stock. Disney will also assume approximately $13.7 billion of net debt of 21st Century Fox. The acquisition price implies a total equity value of approximately $52.4 billion and a total transaction value of approximately $66.1 billion (in each case based on the stated exchange ratio assuming no adjustment) for the business to be acquired by Disney, which includes consolidated assets along with a number of equity investments.
Combining with Disney are 21st Century Fox’s critically film production businesses, including Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures, and Fox 2000, and its storied television creative units, Twentieth Century Fox Television, FX Productions and Fox21. Disney will also acquire FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, Fox Sports Regional Networks, Fox Networks Group International, Star India and Fox’s interests in Hulu, Sky plc, Tata Sky, and Endemol Shine Group.
At the request of both 21st Century Fox and the Disney Board of Directors, Bon Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Co., has agreed to continue as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the company through the end of calendar year 2021.
This transaction will enable Disney’s recently announced Disney and ESPN-branded DTC offerings, as well as Hulu, to get content more directly to consumers. The agreement also provides Disney with the opportunity to reunite the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Deadpool with the Marvel family under one roof.
Disney’s international reach would greatly expand with the addition of Sky, which serves nearly 23 million households in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy; Fox Networks International, with more than 350 channels in 170 countries; and Star India, which operates 69 channels reaching 720 million viewers a month across India and more than 100 other countries.
Prior to the close of the transaction, it is anticipated that 21st Century Fox will seek to complete its planned acquisition of the 61 percent of Sky it doesn’t already own. 21st Century Fox remains fully committed to completing the current Sky offer and anticipates that, subject to the necessary regulatory consents, the transaction will close by June 30, 2018. Assuming 21st Century Fox completes its acquisition of Sky prior to closing of the transaction, The Walt Disney Company would assume full ownership of Sky, including the assumption of its outstanding debt, upon closing.
The acquisition is expected to yield at least $2 billion in cost savings from efficiencies realized through the combination of businesses, and to be accretive to earnings before the impact of purchase accounting for the second fiscal year after the close of the transaction.
Terms of the transaction call for Disney to issue approximately 515 million new shares to 21st Century Fox shareholders, representing approximately a 25 percent stake in Disney on a pro forma basis. The per share consideration is subject to adjustment for certain tax liabilities arising from the spinoff and other transactions related to the acquisition. The initial exchange ratio of 0.2745 Disney shares for each 21st Century Fox share was set based on an estimate of such tax liabilities to be covered by an $8.5 billion cash dividend to 21st Century Fox from the company to be spun off.
The exchange ratio will be adjusted immediately prior to closing of the acquisition based on an updated estimate of such tax liabilities. Such adjustment could increase or decrease the exchange ratio, depending upon whether the final estimate is lower or higher, respectively, than the initial estimate. However, if the final estimate of the tax liabilities is lower than the initial estimate, the first $2 billion of that adjustment will instead be made by net reduction in the amount of the cash dividend to 21st Century Fox from the company to be spun off. The amount of such tax liabilities will depend upon several factors, including tax rates in effect at the time of closing as well as the value of the company to be spun off.
The Boards of Directors of Disney and 21st Century Fox have approved the transaction, which is subject to shareholder approval by 21st Century Fox and Disney shareholders, clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, a number of other non-United States merger and other regulatory reviews, and other customary closing conditions.